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Types of X-Rays

X-rays, also known as radiographs, are an essential part of any dental treatment plan. It is a picture of teeth/bone that aids in the diagnosis of any abnormalities in the mouth. It allows the dentist or hygienist to see problems with the teeth or jaw that may not have been visible with a routine visual examination.

Bite-Wing provides a visual of both the lower and upper posterior (back) teeth. This type of x-ray shows how these teeth touch one another and helps to determine if decay is present.

Periapical provides a view of the entire tooth, from the crown to the bone that helps to support the tooth.

Panoramic provides a view of the teeth, jaws, nasal area, sinuses and the joints of the jaw. It is typically taken when a patient needs orthodontic treatment or dental implants.

Occlusal provides a clear view of the floor of the mouth to show the bite of the upper or lower jaw. This type highlights children’s tooth development to show the primary (baby) and permanent (adult) teeth.

What Can X-Rays Reveal ?

  • Abscesses or Cysts
  • Bone Damage or Loss
  • Cancerous and Non-Cancerous Tumors
  • Decay Between the Teeth / Cavities
  • Developmental Abnormalities
  • Poor Tooth and Root Positions
  • Problems Inside a Tooth or Below the Gum Line


Without using x-rays, dentists may miss decay that is beginning to form between the teeth. By the time a cavity, that begins between the teeth, is large enough to be detected without radiograph the tooth often needs a much larger filling. Sometimes the cavity is large enough that the tooth needs a root canal because the bacteria got deep enough to infect the nerve of the tooth.

Are Digital X-Rays Safe?

Digital x-rays produce a significantly lower level of radiation compared to traditional dental x-rays. Not only are they better for the health and safety of the patient, but they are faster and more comfortable to take. Additionally, the image is captured electronically, therefore there is no harmful disposal of waste and chemicals into the environment

Even though digital X-Rays produce a low level of radiation and are considered very safe, dentists still take necessary precautions to limit the patient’s exposure to radiation by use of lead apron shields to protect the body.